With three months until Tally Youngblood turns sixteen, she sneaks into the pretties world to find her best friend. He is glad to see her but shocked that she is there. Uglies and pretties never mingle. She will return after her surgery to make her pretty and then they will resume their friendship. Emergency sirens and spotlights speed her exit from the perfect society. While waiting for her birthday, she meets Shay who shows her a world of blissful imperfections. Shay invites Tally to stay as she is and escape with her to a world where appearance is never seen as ugly.
I have to admit, I held off reading this book because I thought it would be a new version of an old Twilight Zone episode. Although the initial concept is there, it does not follow the same plot line. UGLIES explores the depth of the pretty-making-process and the unseen damage that is within the realm of acceptable failure.
Mr. Westerfeld's writing is superb. The reader is swept into his world as if it were their own. The pace and timing are spot on with no sluggish moments and the tension builds perfectly.
Although UGLIES is set in a futuristic world, the setting is not far removed from reality. There is never a distanced and cold feeling, except when Tally jumps into an icy river. The characters are believable and enjoyable and portrayed as intelligent teenagers who still face the awkward transition into adulthood.
All elements for a good story are here and told in an enjoyable fashion. Scott Westerfeld has easily become my favorite YA author.